Updated 26 May 2017
Following an extensive survey by a team of experts, billionaire James Ratcliffe has greenlit a project that will have a Defender-like vehicle with better driveability, emissions and safety standards on the market in the next three years, according to Motor Authority.
“I am a great admirer of the old Land Rover Defender and have enormous respect for its off road capability,” Ratcliffe said in a statement. “But whilst our off-roader might share its spirit, our new car will be a major improvement on previous models.”
Word is that 20,000 of the new SUVs will be built annually and they’ll be priced under $65,000.
Given how painful it was for all involved when the last Land Rover Defender rumbled off of the production line last January, we don’t present the following piece of news lightly:
A British billionaire has a plan to bring it (or something eerily similar to it) back, and he’s pretty damn serious about it.
Personally valued at more than $7 billion, James Ratcliffe — the founder and majority owner of chemical firm Ineos Group — has always been a fan of the iconic off-roader. And when Jaguar Land Rover pulled the plug on production last year, he felt there was a hole in the market to be filled. Ratcliffe's suspicions were confirmed by a six-month feasibility study after which Ineos decided it would be prudent to invest “many hundreds of millions” in developing a Defender-inspired SUV. The new SUV won’t be a copy of the Defender, but will “reflect its philosophy” while improving on quality and reliability, the Birmingham Post reported.
“We want to build the world’s purest 4x4 and are aiming it at explorers, farmers and off-road enthusiasts across the globe,” Ratcliffe said.
Ineos intends to start production of a gas-powered model by 2020 (but is also investigating the possibility of hybrid and electric builds) and is targeting initial sales of 15,000 units per year. If that’s not bold enough, Ineos plans to price its off-roader at around $30,000, Autocar reported.
“It’s definitely not a publicity stunt,” Ineos director Tom Crotty told the publication. “It’s a serious project. We are approaching it from the point of view of enthusiasts … People probably think we’re crazy because we’re not in the car industry.”
Crazy like a fox, we hope.